Multiple Myeloma Research Projects
MOON SHOTS PROGRAM
High-Risk Multiple Myeloma Flagship Projects
Research projects of the High-Risk
Multiple Myeloma Moon Shot™ address the crucial issues facing multiple
myeloma patients by aiming to delay and ultimately prevent
progression of the disease – especially for high-risk patients who
have had few answers until now. These research efforts are aimed at
better predicting disease progression and deploying immunotherapies
and cellular therapies against it.
Preventing progression from monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smoldering multiple myeloma to symptomatic disease
Using "natural killer" immune cells with stem cell transplantation to eradicate myeloma cells
Intervening early in the disease process may improve survival outcomes, but should only be considered for patients that are at high-risk for progression to symptomatic multiple myeloma. Twenty one percent of patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a pre-malignant disease state, will progress to symptomatic disease. The percentage is higher in patients with smoldering multiple myeloma, an early-malignant disease state, with 78% of these patients progressing. In light of this, models that reliably predict a patient’s risk of disease progression are needed to prevent over-treating otherwise asymptomatic patients. Unfortunately, current prediction models of disease progression are not sufficiently precise. To more accurately predict patients at high-risk for progression, the High-Risk Multiple Myeloma Moon Shot is collaborating with the Cancer Genomics Laboratory (CGL) platform of the Moon Shots Program™ to perform comprehensive genomic and immunologic profiling of patients with MGUS or smoldering multiple myeloma. This information will lead to prediction models that can accurately assess the likelihood that a patient will progress symptomatic disease. It will also help identify targets for drug development and optimal drug combinations to treat high-risk MGUS and smoldering multiple myeloma.
Through two investigator-initiated clinical trials, our Moon Shot™ experts are also evaluating whether immunotherapies can delay, or prevent, progression of high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma. Our Phase II trial examining the ability of isatuximab to delay progression to symptomatic disease has recently opened for accrual. Additionally, through a collaboration with Merck, we’re also examining whether the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab controls smoldering multiple myeloma and prevents disease progression.
MD Anderson launched the first-in-human clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of expanded populations of cord blood NK cells in treating multiple myeloma. In collaboration with the Moon Shots Program's Adoptive Cell Therapy platform, we’ve extended this trial to include high-risk multiple myeloma patients to determine if this therapy improves survival outcomes for this critical subset of patients.
Our Moon Shot team is also modifying NK cells to better recognize multiple myeloma. By engineering NK cells to more efficiently recognize SLAMF7, a molecule expressed on myeloma tumor cells, we’re further promoting the anti-myeloma activity of these cells. The effectiveness of this treatment approach will be examined in clinical trials soon.